Moonlight, a quiet river and alligators

Trick-or-treating, Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream are three common ways for people in the Tampa Bay area to celebrate Halloween.

USF Outdoor Recreation took advantage of the frightening holiday, setting up a moonlight canoe ride down the Hillsborough River Saturday night.

From 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., the soft luminescence of glow sticks could be spotted along the water.

“I thought it was really neat. Because it was so close to Halloween, the ambiance of the environment added to the spookiness of the holiday,” said George McNerney, a USF student.

John Hart, a staff member at USF Riverfront Park, said the event is usually hosted on full moons, but Halloween was an exception.

Hart said there have never been any casualties during their nighttime canoeing exhibitions and there is less of a problem with snakes and alligators at night than during the day.

Outdoor Recreation has eight canoes and eight kayaks, but most preferred the canoes.

“If you rent a kayak it’s like you’re swimming with the gators; you’re so close to the gators. When you rent a canoe, you are higher up,” Hart said.

USF student Connie Beach said,she prefers the canoes. “

“What I like about the river is its serene qualities,” Beach said. “The soft glow of the moonlight and the gentle current of the river made for a perfect canoe ride.”

Many animals are seen traveling the river, including alligators and bats.

“The sounds of the animals at nighttime create an atmosphere scarier than most haunted houses,” Beach said.

Every canoe explored different parts of the river and every person stepped off the river with a full list of memories.

“I could hear the sounds and the habitat that the animals were actually in. Going down the river at nighttime is something I will always remember,” McNerney said.

“I could see a lot of animals that would normally be hiding during the daytime. I saw alligators and I thought it was really neat when I shined my flashlight at them and I could see their red eyes shining at me,” Beach said.

Adam Purcell, a staff member at USF Riverfront Park, said they had about 60 people canoeing that night, and all of the canoes and kayaks were rented.

Purcell said that they’ve had many different canoeing trips on the river, including a trip to Morris Bridge and various sea canoeing trips.

“I think it’s great that USF allows students to participate in an event like this. It gets people outside and it gets you in shape,” Beach said.

USF Outdoor Recreation participates in a number of trips that include treks along slow moving rivers and extreme rock climbing.

The trips are affordable and are open to people of all ages and experience levels.

Upcoming events include the 10,000 Islands Getaway in December, which involves sea kayaking. The students will also be kayaking the Everglades National Park. Another trip is the spring break cruise. Aboard Carnival’s Inspiration, the seven-day cruise will include trips to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize. For more information on Outdoor Recreation and USF Riverfront Park visit .